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What can Christians do in the bedroom?

Jay Dee

What can Christians do in the bedroom?

May 07, 2014

A common question among Christians is “What is allowed in the bedroom?” or “Are there any activities we’re not allowed to do during sex?”  This is a confusing topic, mostly, because we (the church) have made it confusing.  I think the Bible is pretty clear on

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What can Christians do in the marriage bedA common question among Christians is “What is allowed in the bedroom?” or “Are there any activities we’re not allowed to do during sex?”  This is a confusing topic, mostly, because we (the church) have made it confusing.  I think the Bible is pretty clear on it if you read it as a whole and see God’s attitude towards marriage, and I’m going to attempt to show bits and pieces of what I mean.  Unfortunately, I can’t do a full job of showing the entire picture, because that would be an entire book.  But, we can take a quick jump through the Bible to see what it says.

This post is basically in response to a question from a reader (who shall remain nameless, because I didn’t ask if I could share their name):

I have been asked a question a number of times about being a Christian and sex that you are limited to what you are allowed to do in the bedroom (like no oral).  From the reading and research in the Bible that I have done basically the only guidelines to sex is:

  1. One man and one woman
  2. Within the bounds of marriage
  3. That which is consensual between the partners.

Basically what I read in the Song of Solomon was to have fun and enjoy each other.

What is your thoughts on the subject?  Is there any particular acts that are not allowed in the bedroom?

There is a lot of theology in these three points, and in this post I’m not going to tackle homosexuality or premarital sex, because those are entire posts on their own (but I will at some point).  So, what about this “That which is consensual between the partners”. When I first read these 3 points, I thought to myself, here’s a guy that gets it! He is really on the right track. But there is just a little bit missing to that last point. Jay is going to explain it with lots of great detail and theology. I think I would modify this point to be something like “that which builds your spouse up”, and here’s why:

There are couples who will do things to each other, with consent, that will harm each other.  I want to stress the word harm here.  I don’t mean hurt.  There is a difference.  Hurt is temporary, harm is more permanent (if not permanent).  There are times (outside of sex) that we have to hurt our spouses (not physically, I’m not condoning abuse) in order to progress the marriage.  These times include when we must confess something we have done to our spouse.  It hurts.  It hurts us, it hurts them, but the intent it to heal the damage already done.

This point he makes gets me thinking about things that may be permissible, but not beneficial. The Bible talks about that and is pretty clear that not everything that is permissible is beneficial, and I think these types of acts fall into this category. So if you are thinking of something that you want to do in the bedroom, ask yourself, would this be a blessing to my spouse? Just remember that you don’t have to do something you are completely uncomfortable just because you know the other would love it. That is not what this is about.

There are also times, when spouses choose to hurt (with consent) each other (or one) during sex, in the form of spanking, pinching, love bites, using fingernails, etc..  This is due to the fact that pain and pleasure set off the same nerves circuits in our brains, so the lines can become blurred, and pain can increase pleasure, in some cases.  I’m not saying go and do it, I’m saying some people do.  This is not what we’re addressing in this post either.

What I mean is those activities which will cause harm, either emotionally, physically, or spiritually.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

This verse from Thessalonians is meant for all Christians, we are to build each other, but how much more so then does this apply to husbands and wives?  We should act, at all times, especially with our spouses, to build them up, not tear them down.  To treat their body as God’s temple, as we are to treat our own.  To encourage their spiritual growth, not hinder it. So think about how you can apply this philosophy to your sex life. How would could it change some of the activities you participate in the bedroom and out of the bedroom?

So, where does this leave us?  Are there specific acts that are not sanctioned? Yes there are specific acts that aren’t sanctioned, there will be a list at the bottom of this post, but Jay is trying to make another point.  Should we even be thinking about it that way? I think perhaps not.  So how should we be thinking about it? When we think of the Bible and it’s main message to us, what do you think of?

I believe the message of the Bible is really simple: Love.  The entire Bible shows:

  • How God loves
  • How we should love

I think everything in Bible shows these two points.  All the laws (to tell the people how they are to honor and worship God their creator), all the wars (so many deaths, but all, ultimately, for the love of His creation), all the miracles (God hates to see our pain and suffering), the prophecies (He wants to share with us His great plan!), everything can be boiled down to these two points, and it’s not exhaustive.  There are many ways in which God shows His love, and continues to show it, that are not cataloged in the Bible.  Likewise, there are many ways we show love, or need to show love that are not cataloged in the Bible.

These points are summed up by Jesus easily in:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” – Luke 10:27, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30-31

If you love me, keep my commands. – John 14:15

And the closer we get to God, the more keenly we are aware of when we have damaged our relationship, without being told by rules and guides in the Bible.  Look at Paul’s ministry.

Here is a saying that you can trust. It should be accepted completely. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the worst sinner of all. – 1 Timothy 1:15

Paul calls himself the worst sinner.  Is that possible?  Likely not.  But, I think he was more aware of his sins, those mentioned in the Bible and not, than most of us are of ours.  I’ve seen it in my own life.  Things I would have done without a second thought earlier in my life would have me recoiling now.  And this occurs in all aspects of my life: health, entertainment, finances, sexuality, spirituality.  Eventually you get to a point where the things you are NOT doing are recognized as a sin: like skipping devotions or not praying enough, or as subtle as not surrendering to God in everything.

So, what does this have to do with the topic of what Christians can do in bed?

Because I could make a list for you (and Christina has one below), but what you really need isn’t a list.  What you really need is a closer relationship with your spouse.  Because your list is going to be the things that damage your relationship with your spouse, and that’s going to change as you both grow, and it’s going to be different for every person.  Yes, there are some things that are common to all people (humiliation play, for example, I believe would be on that list), but for others: oral sex might be damaging to your relationship, it might be a blessing for another.  Not because there is anything wrong with it.

But, if your spouse is so against it (or you are) that it would damage your relationship, then I’d argue, that it is an activity you should not engage in, until such time as your spouse has come to terms with it (if ever). This is where I thought that the original question fits, it has to be “that which is consensual between the partners” Remember to keep your bedroom activities beneficial for both people participating!

Here is a list I am sharing that is from a book (Intimacy Ignited) we are studying with our small group at church, and it’s made up of what I would consider obvious activities that the Bible is clear about. It prohibited these things so that your marriages stays true to what God intended it to be like.

1. Fornication: Fornication is immoral sex. It comes from the Greek word porneia, which means “unclean.” This broad term includes sexual intercourse outside of marriage (see I Corinthians 7:2; I Thessalonians 4:3), sleeping with your stepmother (see I Corinthians 5:1), and sex with a prostitute (see I Corinthians 6:13).

2. Adultery: Adultery, or sex with someone who is not your spouse, is a sin and was punishable in the Old Testament by death (see Leviticus 20:10). In the New Testament, Jesus expanded adultery to mean not just physical acts but also emotional acts in the mind and heart (see Matthew 5:28).

3. Homosexuality: The Bible is very clear that for a man to have sex with a man or a woman to have sex with a woman is detestable to God (see Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:27; I Corinthians 6:9).

4. Impurity: There are several Greek words that are translated as “impurity.” To become “impure” (in Greek, molyno) can mean to lose one’s virginity, or to become defiled due to living out a secular and essentially pagan lifestyle (see 2 Corinthians 7:1; I Corinthians 6:9). The Greek word rupos often refers to moral uncleanness in general (see Revelation 22:11).

5. Orgies: For a married couple to become involved in sex orgies with other couples is an obvious violation of (1), (2), and (4) and therefore doesn’t need to be discussed.

6. Prostitution: Prostitution, which means paying for sex, is morally wrong and condemned throughout Scripture (see Leviticus 19:29; Deuteronomy 23:17; Proverbs 7:4-27).

7. Lustful passions: First, let us tell you what this does not mean. Lustful passion does not refer to the powerful, God-given sexual desire a husband and wife have for one another. Instead, it refers to an unrestrained, indiscriminate sexual desire for men or women other than the person’s marriage partner (see Ephesians 4:19; Mark 7:22).

8. Sodomy: In the Old Testament, sodomy refers to men lying with men. The English word means “unnatural sexual intercourse, especially of one man with another or of a human being with an animal.” Unfortunately, some Christian teachers have erroneously equated sodomy with oral sex. This is not the way the term is used in the Bible. In the Bible, sodomites refers to male homosexuals or temple prostitutes (both male and female). In contemporary usage, the term sodomy is sometimes used of anal intercourse between a man and woman. This is not the meaning of the biblical word.

9. Obscenity and coarse jokes: In Ephesians 4:29, Paul says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth.” The Greek word is very descriptive and literally means “rotten” or “decaying.” In Ephesians 5:4, the Bible warns us to avoid “silly talk” or “coarse jesting.” We have all been around people who can see a sexual connotation in some innocent phrase and then begin to snicker or laugh. This is wrong. However, this does not rule out appropriate sexual humor in the privacy of marriage but rather inappropriate sexual comments in a public setting.

10. Incest: Incest, which means sex with family members or relatives, is specifically forbidden in Scripture (see Leviticus 18:7-18; 20:11-21).

Your Turn

What do you think?  Do you believe there are any activities that are prohibited in the Christian marriage bed?

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34 thoughts on “What can Christians do in the bedroom?”

  1. Melissa says:

    I would be interested in receiving further clarification about the section of sodomy and how that term does not include anal intercourse from a biblical standpoint.

    The sad part about it all is that most of the time people are so concerned about getting their own needs met, because they get married with the idea that their spouse is suppose to serve them, that they forget that we were called to be servants to our spouses; not the other way around.

    Sidenote: I enjoy reading your blog. I do have to say that the constant missing words and editing issues can make it difficult to follow the conversation at times. Just a gentle suggestion…you might have someone proofread for you before posting your articles.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Hi Melissa,

      I’ve been planning to do a post on anal sex for a while, but just don’t seem to get the time to do the needed research (theological, medical and social). It’s a big, confusing, contentious topic.

      Glad you like the blog, we’ll try to be more diligent in our proofreading. We’re trying to be more systematic in our writing, but it’s difficult with 4 kids, homeschooling, 2 businesses, church involvement, and all the other stuff. Sometimes, we just barely have time to post. My goal this year is to post every week. Perhaps next year I can work on having enough time to actually write the posts ahead of time and have them proofread by a third party. In the mean time, please bear with us.

      1. Dan says:

        You usually don’t have that many typos but I could tell you were rushing that one out too. The other night I meant to hit preview with Part 6 of Hideous and hit publish instead. I was editing like mad after that for about 15 minutes to fix things before anyone clicked onto the post. The problem with self-editing is we “see” what we meant to “say” and still miss the errors. Having had that experience myself, I was having an appreciative inside laugh while I was reading. If I had you email, I would have cut an pasted the passages in question and sent them. This too shall pass.

    2. FarAboveRubies says:

      Melissa,

      I few months back I saw a post from a very wise father addressing marriage to his son. He said, “Son, you don’t marry someone because they make you happy. You marry someone because you want to make them happy”. Can you imagine how much better marriage relationships would be if both spouses would take this stance?

    3. Dan says:

      Melissa-Actually sodomy is “included” from a biblical standpoint because the men of Sodom were engaging in anal sex with one another. The reason some people would give for it still being permissible between a husband and wife is that it was a homosexual act when done by the men of Sodom and it is homosexuality that is forbidden, not specifically anal sex. A further reason some people say anal play or anal sex is permissible, though associated with homosexuality, is that homosexuals hold hands, cuddle, kiss and engage in oral sex also, They argue that if those acts are not forbidden and are already engaged in by heterosexuals, why would anal play or anal sex then be forbidden? I am not stating a position here, just giving you something to think about in response to your question. That is only a small part of why or why not anal play or sex though. As Jay has pointed out, there are medical, social and emotional concerns to consider also.

  2. Lisa says:

    Thanks for sharing this post. It’s a topic one doesn’t often see.

  3. Laura Connell says:

    What a great reminder that everything has the potential to either build up or tear down. I hope many married couples will read your post and hear.

  4. FarAboveRubies says:

    Hey Jay Dee,

    Great article once again. I know that life is busy and with that note, I would like to say how much I appreciate how much effort you put into your blog. I’m no English major so I don’t have the expertise to edit (nor would I see a mistake). You tackle subjects that most people will not even mention with their spouse in private. Keep up the good work.

    What can Christians do in the bedroom? It’s an easy answer. Anything both spouses agree with, between just the two of them, in a loving and respectful way. It doesn’t have to be vanilla all the time. And really, what’s vanilla anyways? God created me with sexual organs to be used with my spouse. God created my hubby with sexual organs to be used by us. It’s man’s opinions (not based on fact) that cloud the acceptable acts of love. It’s interesting that the bible mentions very little of what not to do with your spouse. The silence speaks volumes in my book. Thank you, Lord!

    The more you delve into scripture, the more freedom you have, through Christ.

    1. Dan says:

      FAR- I think the only thing forbidden in the bedroom is the color orange. HA 😉

      1. FarAboveRubies says:

        Dan,

        You crack me up.

  5. Bec @ The Plumbette says:

    This topic is one that many Christian couples would want to know especially young marrieds.

  6. Dan says:

    One often wonders if people are looking for reasons to say “NO” or “YES” when they ask what is okay to do in the privacy of their bedroom. We worry too much about what someone else might think. Who knew there were so many Peeping Toms outside our bedroom windows telling our parents, neighbors, church and pastor what we are up to or down with.

    1. FarAboveRubies says:

      If we would only realize how little people care about the things we worry about (that is done in private).

      1. Dan says:

        Well….I care. So, are you dishing the dirt? ;P It’s just you ‘n me. I don’t see anyone else listening in.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Well, I always am…

        2. FarAboveRubies says:

          Dan,

          I rarely kiss and tell (well, maybe on here I do). Is it really a full moon out tonight? It makes for a good backdrop, even without orange. I think everyone else but the three of us are busy. I’ll have to go hit the sack soon. Hubby is heading to bed. We always go to bed at the same time. It’s just good for intimacy.

          1. Dan says:

            No full moon here. Just the cloud cover sent over from the plains states. Can you believe snow in Colorado in May. NO THANK YOU!

            1. FarAboveRubies says:

              Dan,

              It’s not uncommon for CO to have snow in May, in the mountains. It’s so repulsive to us because we’ve had such a long and drawn out winter. Here in the midwest, it’s still cold and rainy. I am grateful it’s not snow. Our alfalfa is planted but we’ll have to replant some due to washouts. We’re still waiting for drier condition for the corn and beans. Can you guess which state I’m in? You can guess too, Jay.

              1. Dan says:

                If you’ve had wash outs recently, it’s a cinch you’re not in the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma or Salinas Valley.

                1. FarAboveRubies says:

                  I’m not an Okie nor am I from the biggest state in the lower 48. You would have to venture North to get hotter.

                  1. Dan says:

                    I’m about as north as I want to get at this point in my life.

  7. Danielle P. says:

    Anything & Everything is allowed in sexuality between two committed people who are sharing Love. You fools. I appreciate you trying to figure this out, but the theology misses the entire f****** (excuse the pun) point…. Sodomy is not allowed when it is RAPE and VIOLENCE done to a person (who would be resisting as is ALWAYS the case with rape, abuse, emotional manipulation, incest, and all other examples of one person forcing themself into the holy space of another, the emotional sanctuary, the heart space where god is kept safe) by the way, shut up about the gay stuff unless you take into account what I just said above. In that case, continue on your Merry effing way. This topic pushes my buttons if you couldn’t tell… It is the VIOLENCE AND VIOLATION OF A SANCTIFIED BODY WHICH IS SINFUL/ not the interchange of loving energy between people who share a connection.

  8. cletus says:

    Well my thought is as long as the wife and husband mutually agree then its fine with God. Any type of forced sex would be against His will.

  9. Dan says:

    Just checking in Jay Dee. Getting concerned since this is the second Wednesday with no new post. Are things okay? Should we all be praying for a special need for you and the family?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for checking in. We’re all OK, just in an incredibly busy season of life. Can’t seem to get our feet under us this month. I managed to get a post written, but Christina hasn’t had a chance to add her input yet. Hopefully up today.

  10. LatterDay Marriage says:

    I think that with BDSM there is a line that can be crossed into abusing the body. The body is a miracle of creation and the temple of our spirit and there needs to be a level of respect for that. I’m not saying that spanking is out of line or tying up your spouse and having your way with them with their consent, I’m talking about more extreme practices that inflict real bodily damage. Even if there is mutual consent for it I don’t think God would be happy about it.

    1. Tony Conrad says:

      I agree. I think those that want punishment have a problem somewhere.

  11. Kathy says:

    This is my opinion on oral sex for a Christian, what is to go in the mouth is to be clean, Biblically we are even to wash before handeling food so no unclean thing will enter in, what comes out from the other end is not so clean it is waste and toxic. So why would you think oral sex could be clean, even if you say you bathe first, it is still an unclean area to put your mouth near. If my husband would have his way he would like oral sex, but I say, why do you bother to ask me if I washed my hands first before prepareing something to eat when you are willing to put the same bacteria in your mouth (from oral sex) that I might still have on my hands. God told us to be fruitfull and multiply, I don’t know of anyone who was born out of having oral sex. I believe that if we use our bodies for the purpose on how God designed it, it is pleasurable and pleasing to God. Foreplay is good, washing, caring, and loving each other and having fun is good. But I believe people have become desensitised seeing poronography on the internet, TV, movies, magazines etc….more and more it has been exepted from poronography. Doesn’t poronography come from Satin himself? Are we going to believe another lie from Satin that this is all OK because God just wants us to enjoy ourselves? I don’t think this is what God had in mind. I could be wrong, but what if I’m not, as a Christian, if this is an obomination to God my father do I want to take that chance? I just want to do what is pleasing to God and I have to follow what the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Then there are those scholars who say that Song of Solomon supports oral sex (Song 2:3, Song 4:16). I doubt God would put it in there if it was an abomination.

  12. Tony Conrad says:

    So one can only do PIV sex as that is the way to create babies? Whilst pornography (mental adultery) is very wrong a lot of people enjoy different kinds of foreplay. You may have a point regarding oral sex. My wife is not comfortable with it either but I’m not sure if it because of spiritual reasons or hygeine. She does have a thing about hygeine. I have accepted it as she said she is not comfortable with it.

  13. Dammy says:

    I am still very particular about oral sex as whether is normal or not,inasmuch fluid is involved and sometimes blood can ebb with the virginal fluid which can contain some bacteria. Sex is good only when is done to pleasure each other. My point is that where does oral sex originated from if not from pornography pictures and films,couples who practices oral sex must have seen it in a porn movie.

    1. Tony Conrad says:

      Mmm. You could have a point but there are millions of christians who practice it. One can only pray about themselves I think. I have noticed that deliverance ministers don’t agree with oral sex and often wondered if they knew something that I didn’t.

      I don’t see any proof of oral sex in the song of solomon although a lot want it to mean that it seems.

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